Modeling is all about looks. Female models need to look young, need to have the right look for the campaign or designer and for upcoming models their look needs to stand out. Former model turned television producer Tyra Banks is a self-proclaimed advocate for young women telling them to embrace their differences no matter what their size or color. Yet she’s also the creator of the highly successful CW TV network show America’s Next Top Model where girls compete based entirely on looks and that millions of young impressionable people watch every week. On the show Tyra coaches the girls how to create and enhance their unique look; which also has to do with personality. But the message is that through make up, practicing in the mirror and makeovers can one become a successful model.
The makeovers are one of the more popular episodes of each season on ANTM. Mostly the girls get their hair and sometime eyebrows changed, but these are temporary and can be changed back after the show is over. The makeovers are just the whims of Ms. Banks and probably her producers too but she’s the person who takes credit for the girls’ new looks.
But twice now Ms. Banks has incorporated dental “makeovers” into this segment. In Cycle 6, Joanie and Danielle had the option of changing their teeth. Joanie had severe crowding and “snaggle” teeth while Danielle had a space between her front teeth. Danielle chose not to close her tooth gap at the time but did it later on. Joanie said yes to the tooth “makeover” which involved pulling out perfectly health teeth, putting in dental bridges to fill the spaces and having the rest of her teeth shaved down so veneers could be put on. Did she really know what she was getting into? Or was she persuaded to do the quick fix choice by Tyra because it would make good TV?
Joanie was 25-years-old so old at the time so old enough to make decisions for herself but was she given all the information about different choices? Any good dentist will tell you that pulling out perfectly good teeth is a bad decision. The show made it seem like Joanie’s dental surgery was quick but it turned out that it actually took six months(!) according to an interview on Tyra’s talk show. Joanie’s new teeth on the show turned out to be just temporaries.
So during the makeovers on Cycle 15, Tyra told model hopeful Chelsey that she wanted to make the gap between her two front teeth wider. This involved shaving off a quarter millimeter from each front tooth; which is actually quite minute, but still some of the natural protective enamel of the tooth would now be gone so her teeth would now more susceptible to decay, stains and sensitivity problems.
For Tyra Banks – a woman who claims she wants to empower other girls and is obviously very influential in the media – to tackle permanent teeth makeovers without common sense or real knowledge about lifetime dental health is irresponsible. What’s next Tyra, too thin lips so plump them with injectable fillers? Nose too big so get a nose job? Sure we get that modeling is competitive; model wannabes need to be on top of trends and have no time to waste because they’re only getting older. But really couldn’t Joanie have gotten braces or Invisaline; which would have saved her real teeth and would have kept her teeth healthy as opposed to just looking good? Who knows what sort of problems she’ll have down the line with all that superficial work; which was not only very painful to get but will eventually need replacement and could lead to permanent tooth loss. And what about Chelsey? What happens if her tooth gap isn’t marketable? What happens if she now has ultra sensitive teeth or gets cavities and has to get a lot of additional dental work just because the process of shaving her teeth made good TV?
Tyra, please cease to do dental makeovers on young impressionable women who would willing do anything you ask. Hair at least can grow out or dyed back, but teeth shouldn’t be changed except by a licensed orthodontist. Here’s a thought. Since your show is so influential you could probably even make braces trendy.